As the price of premium grade processed rubber sheet RSS-4 crosses Rs 154 per kilo, the Kerala government has pulled up its socks on its ambitious NR (natural rubber) value-addition plan. The move is aimed at insulating about 10 lakh farmers from the price vagaries of international rubber market.
“A new company Kerala Rubber Limited has been registered, in which the state government and its agencies will hold 26% share,” Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, here.
The state government had earlier announced the plan to go for a CIAL-model (Cochin International Airport Limited) company, with state government agencies and NRI investors holding the main stakes.
This time the state has identified 200-acre land holding for the production facility in Kottayam. “I have asked department heads to speed up the land acquisition procedures,” Vijayan was quoted as saying in a release.
By creating large scale domestic demand for rubber sheet and latex, the state government’s proposed rubber value-addition initiative envisages to keep the domestic price high, even when tyre-makers, who account for 65% of rubber consumption, are drawing NR through the import route. The state government will give all infrastructure support, chief minister said.
Kerala accounts for nearly 80% of the country’s NR production. Poor price realisation in the recent past had been forcing rubber farmers to abandon rubber estates or to lease the rubber-cultivated land for pineapple farming. To aggravate the situation, last year’s devastating floods had triggered abnormal leaf fall disease, diminishing the country’s annual rubber output by 6.6%. The proposed rubber products facility is in response to this predicament. It is envisaged to incentivise the farmer to get back to rubber tapping and pep up the production to meet the Rubber Board’s annual production target of 9 lakh tonne.